Spain's Carolina Marin defeated Saina Nehwal 15-14, 11-5 at the ongoing Premier Badminton League (PBL) to give Hyderabad Hunters their sole win of the day in their tie against Awadhe Warriors at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad on Monday.
The two had previously met at the Indonesia Open in June 2016, where Marin won in straight games.
While both Marin and Saina have been struggling with injuries since the Rio Olympics in August last year, Marin showcased a controlled performance in the league's opening match against PV Sindhu on Sunday, winning the match 11-8, 12-14, 11-2.
In the first game - even as Saina led 4-3 - Marin seemed to dominate with her quick smashes. Saina, on the other hand, looked nervous as she erred often on her returns, netting a lot of shuttles. Taking advantage of the situation, Marin scored back-to-back points to lead 9-6. However, Saina, though a little laboured in her movement, showed some sparks of her best with a smash that threaded the line and a deceptive crosscourt drop shot. She then saved three game points to level at 12-12. Both players continued to fight back, taking the game to 14-14, with both needing one point to take the game before Marin won the rally.
Saina showed all her famed mental toughness in the first game to come back from behind but Marin's power helped her to close out the first game. Marin continued the winning momentum in the second game, taking a lead of 6-0 within the first few minutes.
She launched a series of powerful strokes to extend her lead to 10-3, eventually taking the game and the match.
The PBL - focusing on speed and agility - has introduced a new format in which each game will be a race to 11 points, while each match will be played as the best-of-three games.